Have you ever been in the middle of a task, only to be interrupted by a meeting reminder? Or perhaps it feels like your inbox is always flooded with new meeting requests. Many workers are experiencing meeting fatigue—in fact, most employees attend more than 60 meetings per month. More and more businesses are re-assessing their approach to meetings, with many now adopting meeting-free days.
How effective are meetings?
Meetings are a regular—sometimes constant—part of the workday. With many businesses moving towards remote and hybrid workplace models, coordinating distributed teams can sometimes lead to longer or more frequent meetings. Meetings are meant to increase efficiency and solve problems, but they often do the exact opposite. Let’s look at the case against meetings:
- They disrupt employees during their most productive hours and break their train of thought.
- Preparing for meetings takes up valuable time.
- Getting back into the groove of work after a meeting can be challenging.
Is eliminating meetings the answer?
Not quite. Ending meetings altogether is a radical move, and it’s likely not the best solution. Meetings are still an important part of work because they can be a time to:
- Nurture team cohesion;
- Encourage socialization; and
- Organize and plan tasks.
So how do you ensure both productivity and collaboration? Many businesses are turning to meeting-free days to achieve the right balance.
What are meeting-free days?
As the name suggests, meeting-free days are designated days of the week without any meetings, including team meetings or one-on-ones. They are typically predetermined days that are agreed upon by a team. These days give employees dedicated time to work through their to-do list or tackle new projects without any interruptions.
What are the benefits of meeting-free days?
Though meeting-free days may not work for everyone depending on their role, reducing meetings can be extremely advantageous for many employees. Here are a few benefits of setting aside dedicated days for focused work:
If you have ever been interrupted while working, you know how frustrating any type of distraction can be. Even with a quick 10-minute meeting, employees end up losing much more time than that. Researchers have found that after an interruption, it can take 23 minutes to get back to where you left off.
Sometimes an employee may need a few distraction-free hours to complete a project. Unfortunately, finding a block of time can be difficult for those who have meetings scheduled throughout the day. Meeting-free days give your team time to start and finish tasks that require focussed attention.
Have you ever left a meeting thinking that it could have been an e-mail? 50 percent of people find meetings to be unproductive, and more than 70 percent do other work at meetings. An overload of meetings is leaving employees disengaged and stressed.
Implementing meeting-free days can help team members become more thoughtful about which meetings are really adding value. By cancelling unnecessary meetings, employees can become more focussed during important meetings. Meetings can become more intentional, productive, and goal-oriented, and employees can arrive prepared to contribute.
Meeting-free days can be a time for employees to find innovative ideas and solutions. While collaboration is key for many tasks, it is also important to nurture independence and build trust in the workplace.
A recent survey of more than 75 companies showed autonomy, communication, engagement, and satisfaction all improved with the introduction of one meeting-free day per week. This resulted in decreased micromanagement, reduced stress, and increased productivity. It was also found that employees’ psychological, physical, and mental well-being were at their peak when given the opportunity to work independently and collaborate with others at their own pace.
So how do you implement meeting-free days?
If meeting-free days are something you would like to try in your organization, we can help! Our HR experts have put together a FREE guide with strategies and advice to get you started. Download our Guide to Implementing Meeting-Free Days!